Air travel – how to make your flight more comfortable

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Whether you fly regularly, or are taking to the air for the first time, there’s no denying that the time you spend in the air is often not the most comfortable. However, with a little knowledge and forward planning, you can make your trip more bearable.

Which airline?
Planning for a comfortable journey starts when you book your flight. Although many of us are driven by cost when choosing an airline and fare, it is worthwhile reading the reviews of which airline offers the best economy service. You should consider the width of the seat, legroom, food, entertainment and configuration of the aircraft. Once you have one or two chosen airlines, then you can concentrate on finding the best fare for your trip.

There are a few sites that offer airline reviews – possibly the best independent site is Skytrax.

Seat selection
Choosing your seat is the next step to a more comfortable flight. You should consider how often you need to get up and move around (if frequently you probably don’t want a window seat) how close you want to be to the toilets (remember, this is where passengers usually gather during long-haul flights) and, if you want to sleep, know whether you cope with being disturbed by someone wishing to get out. It’s also worth noting that the seats at the front of economy are often occupied by families, so if small children making noise bothers you, you might want to opt for the back of the cabin.

Once you know your aircraft type, check out the seating plan on 

You can often pre-select your seat on your chosen airline’s website – the sooner you do this the more likely you are to get the seat you want. Or, if you can’t do this online, get to the airport early!

Be entertained
Unless you’re flying with a budget airline, entertainment in the form of television, movies and music will most likely be available on your flight. Most airlines publish what is being shown on their websites so you can plan what you want to watch. However, sometimes what is actually shown is different from what is published and occasionally the entertainment system doesn’t work, so it’s worth having a back up plan. If you have a laptop or tablet, download a couple of movies, a tv series you’ve been wanting to watch, a good ebook and some music to see you through your trip.

Enjoy the quiet
The one gadget no one in the YourLifeChoices team will travel without is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Although pricey, if you travel often, they’re worth their weight in gold. Even some simple earplugs can make all the difference. 

Wipe away
Although most aircraft are cleaned between flights, just how ‘clean’ they are depends on your own standards of cleanliness. Take a couple of anti-bacterial or antiseptic wipes in a zip lock sandwich bag and give your tray and armrests a quick wipe down before you take off. Don’t worry that people look at you as though you’re a little obsessive – it’s better than eating off a table that may have the germs of all who sat there before you! An extra couple for the loo won’t go amiss either.

Limit the carry on
Despite airlines having seemingly strict limits for carry on baggage, overhead space is at a premium and the last thing you want is a big bag taking up your valuable legroom. The solution is simple, travel light with only essentials in your hand luggage. That way, if you don’t manage to bag yourself some space overhead, you can always tuck your bag behind your legs, rather than compromise your legroom.

Dress for comfort
Tight jeans and a smart jacket may look great when you’re walking through the airport but after two hours in a cramped airline seat, you’ll be looking longingly at the person in their comfy tracksuit. There is no need to throw style out for comfort; just follow a few simple rules and you’ll arrive at your destination looking smart and rested

Get some shut-eye
Sleeping on a flight can be near impossible, unless you’re one of those annoying people who can sleep anywhere. Even simply resting is better than staying wired for a full flight, so don’t forget to pack an eye mask and a neck pillow to make things a little more comfortable. Don’t drink too much alcohol in the hope it will make you fall asleep – it’s more likely to make you dehydrated and give you a sore head. If you’re going on a long haul flight, it may be worthwhile talking to your pharmacist to recommend a light sleeping table – there are ones you can buy over the counter.

Stay hydrated
It should go without saying: it’s important to drink plenty of water when you fly. Don’t worry if it makes you go to the loo more often; it’s better for your organs and skin to have all the toxins flushed out. Stay away from carbonated drinks and drinks with caffeine; plain old water is good enough. Most aircraft have a water fountain, so you when you get up to stretch your legs and grab a cup of water, too.

Banish the stale air
One of the worst things about flying is the stagnant air and smells that permeate the cabin, building to a fog by the end of the flight. A small atomiser with scented water is a good way to purify the air. If you choose a scented oil that won’t burn your skin, it will also make a great face spray to combat the dry air on your skin.

What is possibly most important when taking a flight of any duration is to remember that it’s a means to an end. There’s nothing much you can do once you’re onboard other than relax, enjoy as much as you can and dream about how much fun you will have when you reach your destination.

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Written by Debbie McTaggart


Total Comments: 6
  1. 0

    I really wish that your site didn’t recommend a sleeping tablet as an aid to a comfortable flight! Taking one could lead to the development of a DVT ( deep vein thrombosis) which can unfortunately lead to death in some cases. I had one after a 13 hour flight in which I had taken a sleeping tablet – I didn’t realise that stasis( lack of movement), dehydration, being even slightly overweight, smoking ( which I never have) can lead to the formation of a clot. I know personally of a slightly built, normal and healthy 8 year old who developed one on a flight of same duration – she had been exhausted so slept entire 13 hours. No movement, no water…I was lucky as I knew the signs to look out for – if undiagnosed, a piece of the clot can become dislodged over time and travel to the lungs, which can be fatal.
    So PLEASE – NO SLEEPING PILLS and LOTS OF WATER – so if you do nod off, the need to go to the toilet will wake you up and you will move around the plane.

    • 0

      Thanks for the note Dee. Many people rely on sleeping tablets that you can purchase over the counter, most of which are an anti-histamine. However, we fully understand that this is not suitable for everyone and that is why we always recommend discussing with your pharmacist.

    • 0

      I would talk to my doctor, rather than a pharmacist, before taking any over-the-counter medication. However I don’t need sleeping tablets of any sort because I’m one of those annoying people who can sleep anywhere 🙂

  2. 0

    Please don’t spray your scented water anywhere near me. What some people think is pleasant, I often find quite nauseating.

    The same applies to any spray device, including deodorant. Find another way to smell sweet rather than adding your pollution to the air we all have to breathe.

    • 0

      I was going to say the same thing Barak. Scented products are a sure fire migraine trigger in susceptible people. Being closeted away in a plane for hours on end is bad enough without having to content with 300+ people all spraying their “favourite scented water” all over the place.

  3. 0

    Yes, I agree. Please don’t spray your smelly spays around me. Could cause an Asthma attack. Its just as bad when sitting next to someone that’s over perfumed



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